If the smell of pine tar turns your crank, if you find the crack of a bat as audibly satisfying as a Typhoon album, or if you just like soaking up sun, then Northwest Independent Baseball League games are the place to be. The NWIBL is a competitive wood-bat league that operates like a minor-league system, complete with 17 teams in two divisions, a midseason all-star game, home-run derby and postseason playoffs. Ever since Timbers owner Merritt Paulson chucked the Portland Beavers to Tucson, Ariz., NWIBL has filled the void for local baseball fanatics.
It's easy to root for NWIBL teams because the players play hard, get dirty and hit homers like the pros. Over 200 NWIBL games are scheduled throughout the summer weeks at Portland's nicest public baseball fields, and admission is free for all games played at Walker Stadium in Lents Park (Southeast 92nd Avenue and Holgate Street) and Sckavone Stadium at Westmoreland Park (Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard and Nehalem Street). This family outing is a good way to show kids that the measure of a great baseball player is not the salary, but the way you play the game. This is blue-collar baseball, with teams consisting of college players, ex-pros, and average Joes who love to grind it out on the diamond. When you see a muddy, bloody player walk off the field and gingerly climb into his truck to go home and get up for work the next morning, you know he's in it for the love of the game, not the glory.
The NWIBL season is already under way and runs through late August, with playoffs culminating in a championship game (the Portland Pirates are this year's defending champs).
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